Technique, Tools

The Anova Countertop Combi-Oven

A combination wet and dry heat oven

I’ve had this $600 countertop oven for about four months and still have not used all of its features. Sure, as a warming oven, as a broil-crisper of thawed fries, onion rings and veggies, as a steam baker for Asian steam buns and bagels, as a finisher-broiler of a sautéed steak, the Anova is intuitive, quick, reliable and accurate–very accurate.

No time for a tutorial on wet vs dry heat, but wet is more intense. We’ve all reached into a 400F oven with a pad and quickly pulled out a hot pan. Don’t do it with this oven. Anytime this thing is operating above 212F, there’s steam in the oven cavity. Reach in there and the exposed top of your hand will scald in seconds.

Dry sous vide is touted by Anova and Vermicular (reviewed nearby). The Anova oven and the Vermicular cast iron pot can be precisely controlled (plus or minus a half a degree) up to about 190F. Set it using your sous vide numbers or the recipe’s and you should get good results, though it’s slow. However, I’ve been cooking wet sous vide for nine years–using a PolyScience circulator and a VacMaster chamber vacuum. (The knocks on wet sous vide come mostly from people that don’t have a vacuum sealer and use Zip Lock bags instead, which don’t cut it.)

The Anova has three heating elements, a probe option and steam options and they all work well. Here is quick table of settings that I have worked out:

REAR: 482°F convection: browning, sous vide, bread baking

TOP: 482°F intense-direct: searing, broiling, roasting

BOTTOM: 356°F gentle-indirect: reheat, plate warmer

BOTH: Top and Bottom: reheat, traditional baking

STEAM: ≤ 212°F: on/off.  ≥ 212°F: on constantly
An nice but not essential feature of the Anova is the oven’s WIFI connection to their full-featured app. Paired with your phone or iPad, the oven can be set up and operated remotely. Their recipes are keyed to this feature, which is kind of fun to play with. Recently however, my iPad won’t pair with the Anova. The connection is flagged as insecure. Not sure why but maybe its tied to my new FIOS mesh router. Annoying but not important.

Anova has posted many recipes to the app and more appear every week or so. They have no apparent interest in publishing a hard cover cookbook, but app recipes can be tagged as favorites for quick retrieval.

As a note of interest: Reading the numerous comments regarding these recipes suggests to me that Anova owner-commentators are overwhelmingly experienced and knowledgeable home cooks. Which fits into the whole Anova combi-oven ‘thing’ as an advanced cooking tool.

A day is coming, I fear, when I will have to downsize into a geezer apartment with a modest kitchen. This Anova and my Vermicular will be on the countertop there. Heaven only knows where I’ll stuff the huge VacMaster.

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